Marvel is offering four free digital comics to introduce readers to the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy, and they have two good reasons to do that: A new Guardians of the Galaxy series, written by Brian Michael Bendis, launched just last week, and there’s a Guardians movie in the works for next year.
The Guardians of the Galaxy first appeared in 1969, as a team of warriors from different planets, each the last of his or her kind, fighting to save the solar system from aliens called the Badoon in the 31st century. That series ended in the mid-1990s, and in 2008 a new Guardians of the Galaxy series was started by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, using existing characters from Marvel’s Annihilation: Conquest crossover event. These are the modern Guardians. Marvel’s problem, at the moment, is that these characters who will be starring in a big movie next year are relatively unknown to the general public.
Enter the digital comics. Each of them will focus on a different character. Bendis told Entertainment Weekly,
Each one is sort of a prologue to the very first issue that lets the readers know who these characters are and what their individual goals are outside of the team. What makes Gamora tick? What secret is rocket raccoon hiding? What cost comes from being one of the galaxies most famous warriors like Drax the Destroyer?
The first, featuring Drax the Destroyer, is available now from comiXology. These comics are part of Marvel’s Infinite Comics line and are made to be read on a tablet; most of the time, a single panel fills the page (sometimes with a second panel as an inset) and a swipe may bring up new word balloons or pictorial elements or a new page altogether. This is a completely different way of reading comics; rather than turning from page to page, the reader stays on a single panel for a while and it changes on each swipe.
On an iPad, the art is big and easy to read. Unfortunately, the art is weak in places; one early panel, in which Drax is drinking from a goblet, is so distorted it looks downright Cubist. The story is straightforward—Drax is hanging out, a trio of beings challenges him to a fight, and they battle for a while before he kind of blows everyone up. The fight scenes are a bit reminiscent of the old Batman TV series, with crazy angles and big sound effects like CRASH and BAM splashed across the page. Once Drax has beaten his challengers, some guy comes along and tells him he is needed on Earth; the Guardians are being reassembled. By the end of it I don’t know that much more about Drax than when I started; he’s a tough guy who usually wins in fights, but then, in superhero comics, who isn’t? Still, it’s a neat little comic, and there are some nice touches; it’s well worth a look just to see the story unfold in a new way.